AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 30, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The following statement was issued today by Richard L. Tate, chair of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation board of directors:
"On Dec. 29, a new law (H.R. 6398) was signed by President Barack Obama that requires full FDIC coverage of Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA). In Texas, IOLTA provides critically needed funding for basic civil legal services for poor and low-income Texans. When we learned earlier this year that changes in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) inadvertently omitted IOLTA protection, we joined state and national efforts to urge a legislative remedy to this oversight.
"The leadership of our Texas Congressional delegation, namely Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Sen. John Cornyn, was critical to the success of this legislation that helps protect funding for legal aid. Rep. Doggett sponsored H.R. 6398 and eloquently described on the House floor his firsthand experience with the importance of IOLTA funding to those who receive access to justice through our programs in Texas. Sen. Cornyn joined several of his colleagues in the Senate in a bipartisan effort to gain support of this important piece of legislation.
"Texas lawyers can now be assured their IOLTA accounts will receive full coverage of the FDIC and the IOLTA program will continue to help thousands receive civil legal services in Texas. Our partners in the access to justice community worked together to ensure that our growing poverty population would not have to endure yet another hardship on funding for legal needs.
"While the IOLTA program in Texas has suffered a 73 percent decline since 2007 due to declining interest rates, this situation would have been made much worse without these bipartisan efforts of our Congressional leaders. On behalf of our clients who face domestic abuse, wrongful foreclosure of their homes, denial of life-sustaining benefits; we thank everyone who helped support this effort for access to justice for all Texans."
Comments from Rep. Lloyd Doggett:
"I am pleased that the bill, which I authored at the request of leaders of the State Bar of Texas, is now law. By continuing full FDIC protection for Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts, this legislation will help finance legal services for those who otherwise would have no access to our justice system.
"Before coming to Congress, I served as a Justice on the Texas Supreme Court, which sets forth the rules and oversees the operation of such IOLTA accounts in our state. I saw firsthand the benefits of these programs in ensuring access to justice for those who otherwise might be unable to secure justice.
"We recognize the wisdom of Judge Learned Hand's writing: 'If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment—thou shalt not ration justice.'"
The Texas Access to Justice Foundation, created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984, is the largest state-based funding source for the provision of civil legal aid in Texas. The organization is committed to the vision that all Texans will have equal access to justice, regardless of their income. The Foundation administers a variety of funding sources, which are earmarked to assist nonprofit organizations in providing legal aid to approximately 100,000 Texans each year. www.teajf.org
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Betty Balli Torres
SOURCE Texas Access to Justice Foundation